Which sort of segues to a larger point, with the explosion of micro-distilleries in the US, how many great distillers are there in this country? What makes every one of these little distilleries think they can make a product and instantly come to market with a product that can compete with the resources and traditions of decades or centuries old producers?
According to The Book of Gins and Vodkas: A Complete Guide
, by Bob Emmons, there are four major grain processing companies in the U.S. that distill grain alcohol:
Midwest Grain Co.
Grain Processing Corporation
Together, they make 99% of the potable grain spirits used to make vodka in the U.S. Basically, according to Emmons, nearly all vodka makers in the U.S.(I imagine this applies to gin producers as well), with the exceptions of few true micro-distilleries, purchase grain alcohol by the tank-car load, (possibly re-distill it, though that's actually the exception), and add their own water to bring it to bottle proof. Even Tito's does this. He dilutes the base (190 proof) spirit to 100 proof, redistills it, then dilutes it again to 80 proof. Seagram's is probably the only mass market vodka/gin producer that manufactures its own neutral grain spirit.
In some European countries, the distilleries are government-owned and the neutral grain spirit is sold to rectification companies.
Interesting fact about British gins: British law forbids the making of gin on the same premises where neutral grain spirits are made. So even British gin is made from neutral grain spirit that purchased or made elsewhere.
I do know that Pennsylvania Pure Distilling in Pittsburgh, for example, who make Boyd & Blair Vodka, do make their own mash from locally grown potatoes and distill the vodka themselves in small batches.
Philadelphia Distilling's website, however, contradicts the statements quoted from that interview, but they're certainly not going put that
on a website.
Edited by brinza, 23 July 2010 - 01:21 PM.